Every February 14th, I become a bit (more) of a rare bird, being as I am, one of those few people who — all told — has fairly neutral feelings about Valentine’s Day. To be fair, it’s more a balance of passions than actual neutrality: My passionate adoration of Necco hearts balanced out by the irritation I feel when friends in relationships complain of the added expectations placed on them by the day. Or the thrill of decorating a shoebox restored to balance by the annoyance when single friends whine about their incomplete lives, even though they were equally incomplete (or, cough, — not) last week, and it didn’t seem to matter.
I made a few decisions this year, which located me more firmly as the Ambassador for an Alternative Valentine’s Day than I necessarily intended. The first was an arm extended back into my childhood, when those candy hearts and shoeboxes were really all that mattered. For starters, while running errands the other day, I made sure to pick up some cheap paper Valentine’s. (The cheesier the better. Although, I will admit that, unable to bring myself to the High School Musical level, I personally went with My Little Pony.) Next, of course, is the grade school process of designating who gets which card, and (later today) delivering them. I’ve decided to throw in some added randomness, by leaving a few in choice places, where I have no clue who will stumble across them, or when… Maybe someone will open a library book next August and discover a smiling pastel pony inviting that (s)he “have a rainbow day” — and maybe (s)he will smile. Paper valentines, after all, can make remarkably good bookmarks.
Last night, my brother and I had a two-person housewarming for his new apartment, and I made sure to hand him his pink-and-purple “Friends Forever” pony card on the drive over. He laughed and thanked me. As it turns out, the woe-is-me single friends (even more so than the schmoopy lovebirds) had been getting to him as well. What surprised me most was that, while giving props to my child-centered solution, he offered an alternative that can only be described (to his surprise, I’m sure) as thoroughly asexual. His theory? Valentine’s Day would not be the bane of our existence, honestly, if it were really about love. If we could make the decision to really honor love, all love, on Valentine’s Day (if only for that day), it simply wouldn’t suck. If it were equally about your love for your grandma, your love for your friends, your love for Dr. Drew Pinsky (cough), and your love for rock-climbing, and the point was to focus on, remember, maybe even acknowledge, all that love? It would no longer suck harder than a vacuum. So in honor of my bro, I propose this as alternative number two (which, fyi, can completely be integrated with my own inner-child-oriented solution): Think of the nine million different ways you could finish the sentence “I love __.” And then go do something about that love. Maybe you’ll finally write that fan-letter to Dr. Drew, or maybe you’ll take your grandmother rockclimbing. If you refocus on love, and make your own rules, it’s bound to be a good time. (Not to mention a thoroughly asexy one.)
In fact, NPR seems to be with me on this. As I was decorating valentines (or was it doing my statistics homework?) the other day, I heard a thoroughly asexual story about a man basically playing The Bachelor, with one relatively simple twist: The twenty-five aspiring actresses who may or may not receive a rose? … are actually significantly more than twenty-five languages, and this blogger/ bachelor is in search of his perfect linguistic match. Told almost entirely in dating and romance rhetoric, the story –(which I can’t for the life of me find a link to) — was a well-crafted twist on how the mainstream media — (NPR can almost be thought of as mainstream at this point, right?) — conceives of love and the objects of our affection.
Personally, I think re-focusing on fun and nonromantic love is likely to be more than enough to resurrect Valentines for us. However, if you’re neither linguistically or childishly-oriented, and you’ve yet to make much progress on that list of 9 million “blanks” you love, I’ll leave you with three bonus Valentine’s options before I get back to decorating my shoebox.
- Option #1: Love Your Body. Care of the National Organization for Women (NOW), this option provides some ways for you to work against the onslaught of hate-your-body messages and act on a love rarely (if ever) included in the Valentine’s Day schema.
- Option #2: International Quirkyalone Day. Proof that my bro and I are not the first people to think these things, IQD calls for a “do-it-yourself celebration of romance, friendship, and independent spirit. It’s a celebration of all kinds of love: romantic, platonic, familial, and yes, self-love.” Good times.
- Option #3: V-Day. For the activists out there, Valentine’s provides a great opportunity to reconnect with Eve Ensler’s “global movement to stop violence against women and girls.” Seriously, do you need a better cause?
Now, I must return to my duties as an admittedly offbeat Goddess of Love.